HC Deb 08 August 1845 vol 82 cc1518-21
Mr. J. A. Smith

asked whether the right hon. Baronet had any objection to lay on the Table, before the House separated, the recent correspondence between the Colonial Office and the New Zealand Company? He trusted he might be permitted, to express the great satisfaction he felt that the term was approaching to those very disagreeable discussions which had lately taken place between the Secretary for the Colonies and the Company. It was certainly true that the whole had not been obtained which the Company thought to be their right, and also to be essential to the good government of the Colony of New Zealand; but he could not forget that, after what had occurred, a certain degree of sacrifice on both sides was necessary, and he did had with great satisfaction the tone and temper exhibited by the Colonial Office in these transactions; and he thought that that tone and temper were more important than the results themselves. He, therefore, begged to thank the Government for the part they had recently taken in this matter. He was exceedingly glad to find that, with the power with which the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office was armed, he had felt how graceful any concession must be coming from him. Before he sat down, he must advert to one point which had purposely been left by the Company till the close of these discussions—a point which was important to the Company here, and not without its importance to the prosperity of the Colony—he alluded to the application which had been made by the New Zealand Company for a loan of money from the Government on the security of their land. He was perfectly aware that the application must be considered by the Government on public grounds, and he was perfectly willing that it should be so considered; but, at the same time, he hoped the Government would state that the application should receive consideration without delay, and would also answer it without any greater delay than necessary. He thought the conduct of the New Zealand Company in this matter was a proof that their more immediate interests had been postponed to what they considered as more the interests of the public; and that would be an answer, he hoped, and the best answer, to the taunt that had been thrown out, as to a cross having taken place between the Government and the Company. He begged to add, that the success of this application was indispensable, to enable the Company to resume its operations as a colonizing body; and indispensable, in his opinion, to the harmonious working of the arrangement which had just taken place.

Sir R. Peel

I do not think it necessary for me to assure the House, that the recent harmonious understanding between the Colonial Office and the New Zealand Company, must have been to me a subject of great satisfaction; but I am bound to state, and I do thus publicly state, that whatever credit is due for these improved relations, must be given to my noble Friend. I said some time ago, that whatever might be the differences between my noble Friend and the New Zealand Company, it would be found that my noble Friend was not influenced by them. I am certain that my noble Friend's past conduct in this matter, was guided by public considerations; and I am certain that his future conduct will be guided by public considerations also. The correspondence that formerly took place between him and the New Zealand Company, would not, I was sure, have the slightest influence on his mind, or prevent him from dispassionately taking into view the whole circumstances of the case; and in all that I formerly said on this subject, I spoke with the entire concurrence of my noble Friend. For the purpose of conducting the late negotiations, a gentleman was nominated, who has not been mixed up with these transactions; and was, therefore, enabled to take a more dispassionate view of the whole case—I allude to that most distinguished public officer, Mr. Lefevre. He was called on to assist my hon. Friend near me, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, in this negotiation; and he was employed by my noble Friend, in concert with my hon. Friend, to conduct the arrangement which has just been completed with the New Zealand Company. With respect to the general allusion which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made to the satisfactory conclusion of these negotiations, it confirms that which I stated from the first, that my noble Friend was acting, in all that he did, only on public grounds. With respect to the charge, that a "cross" had taken place between the Government and the New Zealand Company, I think that no man, who is acquainted with the respective parties, would imagine such a thing could be possible. No secret understanding of any kind has been entered into, on the part of the Government, with the New Zealand Company. If any such proposition had been made to my noble Friend, it would have met with an indignant refusal. As to the application for a loan, the hon. Gentleman must excuse me if I decline to give him any definite answer. If he asks me, if the application shall receive the consideration of the Government, I have no difficulty in assuring him that the Government will give an early consideration to the subject; but the consideration of a thing by the Government, is generally understood to mean a favourable consideration. Now, I cannot say anything of that kind. The consideration that the Government will give to the subject, is not to be understood as being fettered in any way. Of course, nothing could be done without the consent of Parliament. If the Government came to the conclusion during the recess, that the loan ought to be granted, they could only give an assurance subject to the consent of Parliament; they could give no conclusive answer, unless with the concurrence of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman must excuse me, therefore, if I do not answer that question. The Government cannot be understood as being fettered in any way; at the same time, the hon. Gentleman must not draw any conclusion unfavourable to the application, from what I have stated.

Subject at an end.